South Africa’s Olympic bronze medallist and reigning Commonwealth champion is one of the leading swimmers in triathlon and a proven big-race performer. 220Triathlon recently caught up with Henri during aero-testing at the TotalSim hub at Silverstone, where he shared his top tip for each discipline our sport:
Swim – work on the pull
I still work a lot on pulling through the water. Place a band around the legs, so you actively have to hold your hips up. It’s difficult, but helps develop strong swim muscles and forces you to pull a lot of water. I also use a swim parachute to pull even harder and generate a better ‘feel’ for the water. Pullbuoys can also help to raise your hips and place you in the right body position, allowing you to focus on the pull. My pull sets are typically short rest sets upwards of 2km. I might range from 40 x 50m, going on 40sec, to a longer set of 10 x 300m, starting each interval on 4mins.
How to improve your ‘catch and pull’ phase in front crawl
Cycle – develop smooth rolling
You don’t want to be pushing down or pulling up too much on your pedal stroke. A drill I favour to develop a fluid technique is single leg pedal strokes at a high resistance. A good mental cue is to think about wiping something off your foot on a carpet at the bottom of each stroke. The smoother you are, the less movement there will be in the hips, and the more efficient the technique. Start with 1min on each leg and repeat five times.
Run – build strength slowly
The risk of injury is high when coming from a swim background to running. The first thing to work on is strength in your feet and lower legs. When I transitioned from swimming to running, I had stress fractures in both shins and struggled for three years. I would tell my younger self to focus on strength and build up the running slowly. Having the endurance engine but not the strength is like having a Ferrari with Uno wheels, they are just going to fall off as soon as you start travelling too fast. Slowly build up the distance and be conscious of any niggles you feel in the lower leg.
In February, Tim Heming accompanied Schoeman to TotalSim hub at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, where the Olympic medallist spent the day honing his riding position and testing out new tri kit in preparation for the Tokyo Games.
Read Tim’s full feature in the free Huub speed supplement that accompanies issue 377, on sale 16 April.
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